2016 is already looking like a positive year for anyone considering a career in the professional occupations including finance and accounting, financial services, information technology and administration. However, employers should also be aware that there are some hard to fill roles that are predicted to attract more than twice the average salary increases next year.
Businesses are actively seeking the skilled professionals they need to achieve their growth goals in line with economic recovery and the drive towards better productivity. There is a growing supply and demand imbalance, and hard-to-fill roles are experiencing higher than average pay rises due to the increased competition for these candidates.
Professional salaries will grow by an average of 3% over the next 12 months, according to the Robert Half 2016 Salary Guide. This is a higher increase than predicted in last year’s guide, which identified a 2.6% rise. It is also slightly higher than the average annual salary rise of 2.9% announced by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) in September 2015 and well ahead of the current inflation rate of 0%.
The roles that are the most difficult to fill are predicted to see salaries rising the most quickly in 2016, including those in the risk and compliance function within financial services firms (4.9%) and information technology roles (4.0% on average), particularly digital and IT security roles.
Accountancy and finance
Starting salaries for accountancy and finance roles are predicted to rise on average by 2.2% across 100+ positions in SME and large businesses. Overall, there are higher rises on offer for more senior-level roles, reflecting the ongoing need for finance professionals who can add value through business partnering and providing strategic insight for the business, not just fiscal control. The highest average rises for finance and accounting roles are around 4.0%, so hard-to-source senior and specialist professionals can expect a steady climb in remuneration prospects.
Compliance remains top of the agenda for financial services firms as the sector balances revenue-generating activities and the need to remain compliant with heavy regulation. As such, nearly all (98%) finance directors reported that they are already challenged in finding skilled financial services professionals. Salary raises for risk and compliance roles are predicted to increase by 4.9%, the highest average rise for any category within financial services in this year’s Salary Guide.
Starting salary increases for finance and accounting roles in the financial services sector are slightly outpacing finance and accounting within commerce and industry at 2.7% (compared to 2.3%). Salaries for banking operations functions (including trade support, and back and middle office roles) are predicted to grow more slowly than the average for the category at 1.8%.
Hiring within the technology function is predicted to see the greatest rise overall (4%). Digital technology and IT security functions are expected to see the highest raises, including app developers (7.4%) digital technology specialists (7%) and IT security specialists (6%). Key drivers behind these substantial rises include the need to introduce innovation to drive growth and productivity, as well as the burgeoning technology sector itself, which is recognised as one key area to deliver future growth for the UK economy.
Administration and office support
As businesses pursue growth strategies, there is an increased need to enhance the internal structures required to support expansion activities and this is creating demand for talented administrative staff. Average starting salaries for certain roles are predicted to grow beyond the average, including receptionists at 3.4% and administrative assistants at 3.2%. The average rise for all roles across the function is predicted to be 2.1%.
In the lead up to 2016, proactively benchmarking salaries could provide businesses clarity in meeting their retention and hiring needs. Ensuring star performers are receiving competitive remuneration helps businesses remain attractive to both existing staff as well as potential new recruits. Also, as hiring requirements become clearer, benchmarking salaries will ensure budgets accurately reflect business needs.